|KHRP Commends Reforms of Anti-terror Law for Children|
|Thursday, 22 July 2010 17:43|
KHRP commends today’s reforms passed by the Turkish Parliament concerning the application of anti-terror laws against children in Turkey, which sends an important signal that the current practice of treating children as terrorists is incompatible with international human rights norms and is not conducive to creating a space for a democratic resolution to the Kurdish issue. KHRP urges the government to allocate sufficient human and financial resources and expertise to ensure not only adequate implementation, but to more widely confront the widespread criminalisation and detention of children.
As repeatedly highlighted by KHRP and detailed in its report ‘The Situation of Kurdish Children in Turkey’, education for law-enforcement officials, and a wider programme aimed at tackling juvenile justice is sorely needed. Provisions under the Child Protection Law are frequently ignored. Hence it is not uncommon for the Public Prosecutor to take statements from children in the absence of a psychologist or social worker; for superficial or woefully inadequate reports assessing a child’s ability to understand what they have done, to lead to their wrongful incarceration; and a shortage of designated children’s courts resulting in children being tried in an adult court, which simply changes its name for the duration of the trial. KHRP has also found that heavy punishments are severely disproportionate to the often trivial crimes, and flimsy evidence, upon which children are held, and that widespread problems of pre-trial detention and violations of a child’s rights to a fair trial, are commonplace. Problems associated with the continued detention of children in often ill-resourced adult prisons, too may continue to unjustly deprive vast swathes of the future generation from schooling during their most formative years.
Two days ago, KHRP’s Legal Director Catriona Vine spoke at a Public Meeting on ‘Justice and Freedom for Kurdish Children’, at the House of Lords. Commenting on the parliamentary vote, Vine said, ‘By specifically targeting Kurdish children with its anti-terror legislation, Turkey has been failing its commitments to recognise the special place of the child in the legal system, but also not to discriminate under article 14 of the European Convention. The reforms passed today are of course a positive advancement to be congratulated, but it is crucial that alongside their swift and thorough implementation, alternatives to legislation and imprisonment are explored to protect a child’s right to education and private and family life and with it their social and psychological well-being.’